There is a documentary based on this, and its backed up, also video footage of it on youtube.
"Pick a round," Pep said. "I'll throw punches, but I'll never hit him. Check the scorecards after, and see if the judges fall for it."
Riley picked the third.
The fight itself shook the walls of the Minneapolis Auditorium. Graves sent Pep to the canvas twice; Pep dropped Graves nine times, winning by a TKO in the eighth round.
The third round, though, has been a point of contention for years. Riley insists that Pep swept the scorecards without making any contact.
"It was an amazing display of defensive boxing skill so adroit, so cunning, so subtle that the roaring crowd did not notice Pep's tactics were completely without offense," Riley would write many years later.
Even skeptics agreed that if anyone could pull off such a stunt, it would be Pep.
In 2003, the tale began to split at the seams. CyberBoxingZone.com published a story on Graves by Minnesota writer Jake Wegner that included a reprint of the original ringside report filed by Joe Hennessy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Of special interest was Hennessy's description of the third round.
"A clicker couldn't count the blows," Hennessy wrote. "Pep punched Jack into the ropes as the most even round of the evening ended."
Wegner's find seemed to prove that Riley's story was a fable. Still, not everyone buys Hennessy's report. Instead of saying Pep won a round without throwing a punch, say he won a round without landing one. There's a difference. Besides, sports writers in those days wrote whatever the hell they wanted.
-- Bert Sugar, on why he puts more credence in Pep's take on the fight
"I give Willie Pep the benefit of the doubt," said Bert Sugar, suggesting that a legend can be as fragile as the language that preserves it.
"Instead of saying Pep won a round without throwing a punch, say he won a round without landing one. There's a difference," Sugar said. "Besides, sports writers in those days wrote whatever the hell they wanted."
Fight coverage could be slipshod in 1946. For instance, the UPI report of the bout had Graves knocking Pep down four times, but other reports have Pep down twice. Meanwhile, The Associated Press' account of the fight does not mention Graves knocking Pep down at all.